It’s a sensational feeling when a species that’s thought to be locally extinct is found!
The spectacled hare-wallaby (Lagorchestes conspicillatus) was recently thought to be lost around the town of Broome because of intense bushfires, grazing of livestock and being hunted by feral animals in its home range.
Before our surveys, these small, solitary creatures hadn’t been seen for almost 10 years in this region. But a few years ago, WWF-Australia and our partners the Yawuru Country Managers, all had a hunch, so we set out to search for the spectacled hare-wallaby here on Yawuru country and found them!
This year we decided to expand our work to include cross-ranger training with other ranger groups and included Nyikina Mangala and Karajarri Rangers who manage country adjacent to Yawuru country.
… And there’s been some more extraordinary findings recently! Out of 40 sites, spectacled hare-wallabies were found at nine from camera sensors, and at another 13 sites physical signs were found, including scats (hare-wallaby droppings) and tracks.
Not only are they not locally extinct - they’re probably still widespread and persisting on country managed by the rangers!
The take home message? Don’t believe anyone who tells you when a species is extinct, or that they don’t exist in a certain area without going out with the locals and having a good hard look yourself. You never know what you may come across.
It looks like the Country Managers and Indigenous Rangers will soon be using a program called eMammal that’ll let you go through all the sensor camera images – so citizen scientists, make sure you keep an eye out for that!
We also found other animals sneaking up on our cameras, which are always a pleasure to go through. Take a look below at some of the fun (not spectacled hare-wallaby) finds we’ve captured.
WWF-Australia has had some fantastic wins when it comes to finding and conserving some of our rare Aussie beauties.
It just goes to show that being labelled ‘extinct’ may not necessarily be a label that sticks forever. Just take a look at our work on the northern bettong, the wiliji rock-wallaby, and the reintroduction of the black-flanked rock-wallaby at Kalbarri National Park.
There’s still hope for these beautiful animals.
Let’s keep on truckin’ and see what else we can find.